Review of “The Crazies”
The Crazies is a remake of an early 70s George A. Romero low budget thriller. The remake has him as an executive producer and there are quite a few similarities, although this new version, with its much larger budget and a slightly different perspective has a slightly different feel to it.
The premise is much the same as the original. We are introduced to the people of a small rural community, this time in Iowa rather than Pennsylvania, where slowly but surely, some of the citizens appear to be going nuts. At first its the former town drunk who hasn’t had a drink in over two years. When he brings a shotgun to a high school baseball game and the sheriff is forced to kill him, the autopsy comes back indicating that he wasn’t drunk. When another man decides to burn down his house with his wife and little boy in it as he mows the lawn, the sheriff and his wife, the town doctor, start to suspect that things are a bit off the charts on the weird meter. The sheriff and his deputy soon discover a downed military air craft in a local bog that feeds into the water supply of the town and they start to realize that things are probably even worse than they first suspected.
One of the big differences between this version vs. the Romero original is the fact that we never get the military perspective on what is happening. Still, it’s easy to guess how quickly things are escalating for the government and that they are definitely not doing a good job of keeping the situation under control based on their very aggressive actions as they attempt to contain the town, which doesn’t take long to go completely mad as the biological contamination spreads.
The movie goes from mystery/thriller to outright horror as the sheriff, his wife, his deputy, and her receptionist attempt to escape the town and get to witness both the crazies on the loose and the aggressive military efforts to eliminate the biological threat that they have unleashed upon these unsuspecting people, and fight their way through both groups.
I did like the original movie, despite of (or perhaps because of) its low budget, campy appeal. Again, this remake doesn’t provide us with the military perspective as they try to contain this biological contaminant, which both adds and detracts to the new movie’s appeal. Its always interesting to see the genesis of a potential worldwide (or even localized) apocalypse and what causes it to escalate (and how the government screw ups cause it to get even worse), but with a version free of the scandals and arguments between scientists and military generals, we as the audience don’t know what to expect from moment to moment-we share the same perspective as the people trying to flee. The military/government is in no way humanized here-they are big brother, with their satellite images and digitized declarations of containment, but little else besides a few words from a captured soldier and government agent. They remain hidden, for the most part, behind gas masks the entire time.
Nope, this is not a zombie film but the crazies here share some similarities with Romero’s other monster creation in that the madness you see is not only in the creatures trying to tear your face off but from the supposedly sane people trying to run everything. Certainly if you have an appreciation for stories involving government cover-ups, mass hysteria, lots of terror and gore, than you may not really be concerned about any differentiation between this movie and some of the higher quality zombie films out there. The Crazies is fun, disturbing movie that is all the more terrifying because it seems quite likely to occur in this day and age of biological warfare and terror. And because of that, it has much the same appeal as do the zombie movies that Romero and others have been unleashing on us for over 40 years now.